Buffalo, NY – ( release) The Erie County Legislature honored Judge Robert Russell and his vision and leadership in creating the nation’s first Veteran Treatment Court in Buffalo.
Legislator Daniel Kozub drafted the Proclamation that was read on the floor of the Legislature at a regular session on April 14, 2011. In it he thanked Judge Russell for forming the first ever veterans treatment court in the nation in January of 2008. Since that time the program has been copied in counties throughout the United States.
The Veterans Treatment Court relies on support from the federal Veterans Administration (VA), as they staff each session with several VA employees who are there to ensure that veterans are enrolled into the VA Health Network. It has a robust network of volunteer mentors that help guide the veterans through the Court process and in gaining access to services and support to help them overcome any addictions or behaviors that led them their appearance in the Court. Judge Russell also notes that in his courtroom he conducts an open dialogue with the defendant that is less adversarial than many other courtroom conversations. It is Judge Russell’s hope that when a veteran enters his courtroom it will be for the last time.
Studies have shown that 30 to 40 percent of the 1.6 million troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan will face serious invisible wounds such as PTSD or traumatic brain injury. Often times when they return home with these injuries, adjusting to life in a peaceful setting can be difficult and lead to drug and alcohol addictions that often lead to crimes committed.
“As a veteran myself I understand the need for a Court of this type,” Legislator Kozub explained. “We ask these brave men and women to risk their lives for our freedom and when they return to the States the least we can do is offer them the support and guidance they need to regain their lives and live peacefully within our society again. Judge Russell is to be commended for his vision in seeing the need for this type of Court and I am thankful to see his efforts being copied throughout the Nation on behalf of our veterans.”